Republican AGs, including Utah’s, warn Walgreens, CVS over mailing abortion pills

A coalition of Republican attorneys general on Wednesday warned Walgreens and CVS against mailing abortion pills to people in their states, saying it is illegal and unsafe. Photo by Bill Grenblattt/UPI

Feb. 2 (UPI) — Twenty Republican attorneys general, including Utah’s, Sean Reyes, are warning Walgreens and CVS that they will face consequences if the U.S. pharmacy giants distribute abortion pills by mail in their states, saying it is a violation of federal law despite what the Biden administration says.

Led by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, the conservative officials said in letters to the two companies on Wednesday that “their announced plan to use the mail to distribute abortion pills is both unsafe and illegal.”

“It is our responsibility as state attorneys general to uphold the law and protect the health, safety and well-being of women and unborn children in our states,” the coalition said. “Part of that responsibility includes ensuring that companies like yours are fully informed of the law so that harm does not come to our citizens.”

The letters were sent after Walgreens and CVS recently announced plans to offer abortion pills where legal via mail after the Justice Department told the U.S. Postal Service in December that it was legal to do so.

USPS had asked the Justice Department of its opinion on whether it was legal to mail abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol in the wake of the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in June overturning Roe vs. Wade, which had given abortion federal protections.

The Justice Department said the Comstock Act of 1873, and specifically section 1461, which declares it unlawful to mail abortion-inducing drugs and devices, does not prohibit the mailing of such medicines “where the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully.”

The federal prosecutors said this interpretation of the law — which was first intended to mainly criminalize the mailing of so-called obscene and lewd materials — was “well-established” and backed on several occasions by Congress.

The attorneys general, however, told the pharmacies Wednesday that they “reject the Biden administration’s bizarre interpretation” of the law, “and we expect courts will as well.”

“Courts do not lightly ignore the plain text of statutes,” the coalition said. “And consequences for accepting the Biden administration’s reading could come far sooner.

“Section 1461 can be enforced not only by the U.S. attorney general, but also through civil litigation by state attorneys general and private parities.”

The elected officials added that the laws of many states also prohibit the use of the mail to deliver abortion drugs.

The letters were co-signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Both Walgreens and CVS have been asked for comment.

The two companies previously said they intend to seek certification to distribute abortion pills by mail after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration early this year updated a rule to allow pharmacies to stock and dispense abortion pills to pregnant women through 10 weeks’ gestation with a prescription.


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